Thursday, May 31, 2012

West Memphis Suicide making some lemonade!

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When I heard about this I had to give a shout out to the guys in West Memphis Suicide.

This Saturday (June 2nd) West Memphis Suicide was scheduled to play at "Hockeyfest" a 2 day festival concert in Brantford, Canada. This was to be a huge concert, possibly the biggest audience WMS has performed for so far. Well as it turns out with less than a week to go, with thousands of tickets already sold, the entire festival has been shot down due to political red tape.

When I interviewed the guys a few weeks ago, they were amped up and promoting the shit out of this concert. Talk about being handed the proverbial "lemons"

So what happens when DIRTBAGS get kicked in the kahones? They stand up, flip the bird to the powers that be and organize their own damn concert in just a few days! Knowing how many disappointed fans had already purchased tickets they stepped up and are giving them a show anyway! Lesser bands would have been moping around for weeks, in fact I bet a few bands on the Hockeyfest bill are doing just that. In the meantime WMS will be plugging in and giving their fans a great show.

If you haven't yet heard West Memphis Suicide be sure to download and listen to episode 35 of the Decibel Geek Podcast "Radio Sucks" show and give a listen to Nothing Messiah.

Way to step up boys!

The time I almost met (and hung out with) Gene Simmons

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Andrew Jacobs here,

This year marks my 35th anniversary as a resident of the state of California.  I was born in New York (Long Island specifically) on August 12, 1970 and my family and I moved to Southern California when I was 6 years old.  Needless to say, while I did retain a good chunk of the mean spiritedness of the East coast (a trait which has increased DRASTICALLY as I've gotten older), I am and always will be a Southern California boy.

Enough about me for now though.

One of the perks of living in Southern California is the odds of running into celebrities in public are pretty good for the most part.  And, of course, if you live in or even near the Los Angeles/Hollywood areas, you can safely bet large amounts of money that you'll run into somebody famous for something at least a few times a year.  And, of course, if you frequent bars or night clubs on any kind of a regular basis in the Los Angeles/Hollywood areas... I think you see where I'm going with this.

Sometime around Halloween in 1994, I had the choice of going to see two shows happening on the same night at the same time - my good friend's band or a KISS tribute band (I don't remember which one).  Although I was heavily into my KISS addiction at this point and I was still very much riding the first year euphoria that accompanies being a diehard fan of anything, that old "friends love friends' bands" saying carries a helluva lot of weight with me and I ultimately chose going to see my good friend's band over the KISS tribute band.

When I came home that night, there was a message on my answering machine from a guy I knew who went to see the KISS tribute band.  I'll paraphrase it to the best of my recollection:

"Hey Andrew, I just got back from the [KISS tribute band name] show.  Gene Simmons was there and I got to hang out and talk with him for a good part of the night!  It was so awesome!  You shoulda come, man!"

Yes, "friends love friends' bands".  But THIS friend loves Gene Simmons more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Episode 35 - Radio Sucks Radio Show vol.6

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We're back this week with more ear candy for your head holes. Plus, it's Aaron Camaro's birthday this week so be sure to wish him a happy 37th birthday. 37?!? Chris will be 36 in November so we're right on schedule for our midlife crises.

We've got a jam-packed show today filled with tons of tunes from different eras of rock and metal including some new stuff in our Fresh Blood segment.

Things kick off with a strong, very non-disco cover tune from KISS' 1979 Dynasty album which leads us to discuss our anticipation for the forthcoming Monster release and the ever-changing rumored release dates. We also give a deserving plug to Mitch Lafon's great 5 part feature on the 20th Anniversary of the Revenge album on Bravewords.com which includes interviews with Tommy Thayer, friend of Decibel Geek Dick Wagner, Bruce Kulick, Kevin Valentine, and this week's interview with Eric Singer. If you are a KISS fan, you will be highly entertained by these features. Good job Mitch!

We transition into some talk about the recent news that Van Halen cancelled and handful of shows and announced they are taking a break to avoid burnout. Is that the real reason or are the boys dishing out a Different Kind of Truth? We give our thoughts on that before diving into a deep cut from the 1978 self-titled debut.

Aaron gave Chris a hard time during the last Radio Sucks show for playing a "soft" Enuff Z'Nuff tune and counters this week by playing a track that proves that the band had some musical muscle when they wanted to get away from day-glo costumes and dancing video rainbows.

We come back from the break with a "shot and a half" of Fresh Blood featuring a killer band from Spain known as Angelus Apatrida. Chris was turned on to this group by Victor Ruiz on the great Mars Attacks podcast and couldn't help but share a little taste of this great rising band that just straight-up kicks your teeth in (in a good way). We segue from Angelus Apatrida straight into a hard-nosed rocking track by West Memphis Suicide. These guys are based out of Canada (thanks Wally for turning us on) but they've got all the aggression of a group of Cowboys from Hell that we are sorely lacking today. We really think you'll dig this band.

Speaking of Pantera, we pontificate (that's a big word like "gymnasium") about the recent rumors of a possible reunion tour with Zakk Wylde filling Dimebag Darrell's shoes. Can you Vinnie Paul and Phil Anselmo make amends and is it right for the band to charge forward without its dearly departed heart and soul? We discuss it before Aaron breaks our streak of not playing any Black Label Society with a track that is pretty brutal but satisfying.

The rock/metal world on the internet lost a true friend and funny voice on May 21st, 2012 with the death A.j. Confessore; better known as C.C. Banana. We pay tribute to the memory of C.C. with a track off of an album that he helped produce; Kiss My Ankh: A Tribute to Vinnie Vincent which features Banana 7 performing a parody of KISS' Unholy about the unlikeliest of subjects and the Kisstoric story behind it. R.I.P CC.

June 5th marks the return of Ugly Kid Joe with their new E.P. Stairway to Hell. The first single has been released and we dug it so much we thought you'd like to hear it as well. Crank this one up!

We finish things out with a short discussion of the recently (almost) reunited RATT performing together with bassist Jaun Croucier for the first time in years at the recent M3 Festival. Is Juan a permanent member of RATT again? Will the band follow up the well-received Infestation album with one of their principal songwriters from back in the day? We give our thoughts on all of that as we delve into a classic track from the Out of the Cellar album.

Putting a bow on this Aaron Camaro birthday episode is his pick of the greatest song that a guy ever wrote about his own genitalia. You certainly won't hear this one on the radio. Be sure to check us out on facebook and twitter and please keep those reviews coming in iTunes. It makes a world of difference in getting more ears to enjoy this show. We thank you all so much for your support and have many more cool things in the pipeline. See ya next week!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adrian Conner (Hell's Belles, Adrian and the Sickness) interview

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How old were you when you first got into music and why did you get into music?

I was into music right away. My parents had a tiny little toy piano for me to play. And I remember listening to kid records on the old Fisher Price turntable. My mom drove a huge Buick Estate wagon and would put on ABBA. I would sit WAY in the back and put my ear right to the speaker and sing.


What were some of the first bands/artists that you listened to on a regular basis?

ABBA, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Madonna and whatever my sister listened to (Duran Duran and before that, Quiet Riot). I liked all the bands in the '80s as a kid and put every single picture on my wall.


How old were you when you started playing a musical instrument and what was the first instrument that you started playing?

I went through a ton of musical instruments that I did not like. Piano, piccolo, saxophone, harmonica, etc. Recorder was part of 4th grade curriculum. I picked guitar at 14 and I thought it was too hard. But I stuck with it.


Why did you choose that particular instrument?

Because of the movie Satisfaction with Justine Bateman.


As a singer and as a musician, who/what are some of your influences and why?

AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. I love new music. I love songs that touch me, whether they are fun or serious. It doesn’t even have to have guitar in it for me to fall in love with a great song.


Discuss your experiences (good and/or bad) both as a female musician and as a woman working in the entertainment industry.

Bad first, so that we can end with good.

Bad:

Well, I’ve heard several comments that fellow musicians have said about me and my bands: "she's good" or "she’s a better guitar player than me". And then those guys never come to another show. They never ask us to share a bill with them.

I think mostly what sucks is feeling like no other bands want to do shows with us. Or ask us on to killer bills. It’s too bad that we can't come together as peers to pull off great club shows. We feel alone sometimes in a sea of "local/unproven bands". How do we stand out? Especially when our peers ignore us. Maybe they just really don’t like what we do.

Good:

Playing in Hell's Belles with some of my favorite people on earth: Amber, Laura D., Lisa B., Mandy Reed and Sharon Needles. Hell's Belles was one of the first tribute bands ever. Tribute bands were not common back in 2000. We've always taken AC/DC to heart and play with precision and fury. In fact, we play so well that Angus Young himself has said that Hell’s Belles was his favorite AC/DC tribute band. Hell's Belles has made it possible for me to hone my songwriting skills and put out albums independently and 100% DIY for the last 12 years.


What are some of your favorite AC/DC songs to perform and why?

"Shoot To Thrill". So many cool guitar ideas in that song.


What are some of your favorite AC/DC albums/songs and why?

I dig the hits like "Back In Black" and "Highway To Hell". But I also love the first album and POWERAGE


Discuss Adrian and the Sickness, your original band.

Adrian and the Sickness is my creative outlet. I love spending my free time creating music. Practicing. Listening and writing. Writing comes from the other bands and songwriters that inspire me. And probably many other places - sadness, anger, happiness, euphoria, silence, etc.

On the flip side of that, there’s a need to share that music. And a lot of heartache comes from that attempt. Therefore, more songs. That’s some sick cycle.


Feel free to discuss any of your other endeavors (musical or otherwise) here.

Other endeavors include being a better person. Not succumbing to our poisonous American pop culture. Finding self worth. Giving to charities. And being loving and patient with myself so that I can be that way towards others.

They Really Like Us!

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We're not ones to toot our own horn.......oh, who are we kidding. We're tooting our horn constantly but it means much more to us to get feedback from others. We are getting great feedback here on the site as well as the Decibel Geek facebook page from our listeners but today marks a first.

Some Really Smart Dudes
Today is the day that Decibel Geek podcast got reviewed on Podcast Squared. What is Podcast Squared? They are a podcast that gives critical reviews of podcasts. We are the featured podcast review for this, their 100th episode.

While I'd like to go ahead and tell you everything that they say, I'd much rather you check out the review yourself to hear what they had to say about the Decibel Geek podcast. Obviously, if they thought we sounded like a couple of cavemen grunting into tin cans I wouldn't be touting this review so you know that it's positive.

So, for those of you that want to hear what a respected podcast reviewer thinks of us, check out the link below. The Decibel Geek talk starts around 15:35.

http://podcastsquared.com/2012/05/29/podcast-squared-100-syndication/

Thanks again to the guys from Podcast Squared!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The time I met an under the weather Ace Frehley (only slightly more exciting than the Kerry King encounter)

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Andrew Jacobs here,

Pictured above is my ticket stub from the Ace Frehley/Peter Criss concert that I went to on their Bad Boys of Rock tour together in 1995.  Because I was a member of Ace's Rock Soldiers fan club at the time, I was able to meet Ace after the show as well.

After standing in line for a while with the other Rock Soldiers waiting to meet Ace, I finally got up to him and the rest of the band. Ace was clearly under the weather that night and he greeted me with a very unspirited "what's up?" (basically the polar opposite of how he was during KISS's infamous Tom Snyder interview back in '79).

After having Ace autograph my Trouble Walkin' CD and one or two other things, I decided to attempt to brighten his spirits somewhat with a joke (which, because of the sheer datedness of it, won't be funny at all now).  The joke was "what's the difference between O.J. Simpson and Christopher Reeve?".  However, before I could deliver the punch line, one of Ace's bandmates beat me to it and said "O.J.'s gonna walk".

That's it. Told ya it was only slightly more exciting than the Kerry King encounter.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In Photos - KISS on Playboy Building Rooftop 1975

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On January 16, 1975 a struggling New York band that wore garish face paint and black leather costumes ascended atop the Playboy Building in West Hollywood, CA. Just a couple months after releasing their sophomore album Hotter Than Hell, KISS was still trying to break big in record sales but were quickly gaining a reputation as one of rock's best concert acts.

The Hotter than Hell album did not receive the promotional push that it deserved due to KISS' distribution deal with Warner Brothers expiring. Also of note is the murky production value of the tracks with the guitars especially sounding overdriven to the point of distraction. Over the years I've come to appreciate the charm of its sound but it obviously could have sounded much better at the time.

After playing a show 2 nights prior in Eugene, OR, the band arrives in Los Angeles for a two week run of shows that will begin the following night at Long Beach Arena.

On a rare day off, the band poses for these photos with the Hollywood Hills as a backdrop. The Playboy Building, an offshoot of its main office in Chicago, opened in the 1960's and now occupied by different tenants. It's worth noting that these photos feature Ace Frehley wearing platform boots that would later be modified and handed down to Vinnie Vincent in 1982 as he was being ushered into the band as the new character of Egyptian Warrior.
Vinnie Vincent Sporting Ace Frehley's Footwear

Also of note to me is the obvious camaraderie between the band members. This was still, mostly, a time of innocence for KISS. I say "mostly" due to recalling the story of Peter Criss threatening to quit the band over not having a drum solo in the middle of the song Strange Ways. Aside from that, they still seemed to be in an all-for-one situation and these photos provide a great snapshot of a band that was getting its first taste of fame while on the precipice of fortune.

Special thanks to KISS Legends Alive and Michael Ochs Agency for supplying these photos. Credit also due to Richard Creamer and Edward Przydzial. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have putting this presentation together.

 - Chris Czynszak

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bruce Kulick discusses KISS's Revenge track by track all next week on Kulick.net

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From Bruce's official Facebook page:

To celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the release of REVENGE, all next week I'll be doing a look back at the album, including my thoughts about each track. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Interview with Darrell DWaRf Millar

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On a sunny afternoon in Toronto, I had the pleasure of sitting down with none other than Darrell DWaRf Millar of Automan.ca/Killer Dwarfs/Laidlaw fame. We shared some laughs, some beers and some great stories. His new band, Automan.ca is getting ready to tear up the road on tour so be sure to check out their new album "Backseat Surprise" available now on Itunes or at www.automan.ca. So enough of my yakin, lets boogie!

Wally: I am sure most of the Decibel Geek fans out there know who Darrell Millar is but I am sure they don’t know about Automan.

Darrell: (interrupting) NO wait you have to say Darrell "Dwarf" Millar because No they won’t know who Darrell Millar is (laughing)

Wally:  Sorry Ok,  Darrell “DWaRf” Millar. (laughing) but how did Automan come to be?

Darrell: Oh it’s a cool story actually, it all stemmed from this other band I was drumming for called Laidlaw that I was a part of after the Dwarfs broke up. Through the 90’s I moved out to California and started playing with a friend of mine “Craig DeFalco” and the band struggled like all bands in the beginning but we got signed by Nikki Sixx of all people. So then Nikki Sixx ended up being my boss which was very weird for like 5 years and he signed Laidlaw to a deal to his label that’s not around now “Americoma records”  and the next thing you know we are touring with Motley Crue. We did 2 tours with them, the “Greatest Hits” tour, we played Massey Hall here on that tour in 1998..

Wally: I was there for that show, in fact it was the first concert I saw with my wife that night.

Darrell: Oh cool did you even know it was me?
Wally: Well not when I got there but I told my wife “I think that’s Darrell Dwarf playing drums”

Darrell: Well he announced it, cause they are all from California and he announced that this guy is from your home town. That was cool seeing Motley in a theatre eh? They packed in this huge light show. That was the biggest light show I have ever seen in there; like the trusses came right down. The confetti cannons, that show was off the charts! Anyway we did that tour, did the Maximum Rock tour with Motley, the Scorpions and Laidlaw  and then ZZ Top.
I was out with ZZ Top and there was this roadie band that used to have this sound check they would do every night for Billy Gibbons and they invited me up to sing a song. They didn’t know if I could sing, they just wanted a guy to get up and fill the void while they were checking the instruments. So they did “Learning to Fly” by the Foo Fighters , the bass player sang that and they did “Shot Down in Flames” by AC/DC which is my thing. So I got up and sang that right, so for like 35 cities I am getting up at the soundcheck and singing that song. So one day Billy Gibbons comes into my dressing room looking for me and he goes “Hey son, you really sing the hell outta that AC/DC” (laughing) and he walked out and I am like Billy Gibbons just said I could sing! That’s pretty cool you know? So I am like, a light bulb went on and I decided it was time to revisit my roots when I was in Sphinx, where I used to be a singer in my very first band, dummer/singer you know and I decided to put together a band. When I got back to Toronto and Laidlaw was done and the Dwarfs did their reunion and during that reunion tour I put this thing together.

I met Carleton Lockhart, my guitarist and writing partner, phenominal guitar player and we started putting together a band; just the 2 of us. So we wrote some tunes and went in the studio and demo’d 5 songs just the two of us, which became Test Drive X5 with me on vocals and drums and Carlton on guitar and bass which became our very first record. So then we built the band around that, we got Adrian Cavan and John Fenton that are in the band now. Same lineup that we have had from the start, so it was really the ZZ Top tour that gave me the idea and the confidence to do this.

Wally: You mentioned Carleton, and he has a very unique sound on the guitar, how did you hook up with him?
Darrell: Well Carleton..well I forgot to mention that before Automan started, I put together an AC/DC tribute band and Carleton was in the band with a couple of other guys because I wasn’t sure I could really do this (as a frontman) at a certain level you know? So I went underground and put together this tribute band called Auto-Bon which turned into Automan, but Auto Bon did 17 shows and I did 2 hours of AC DC and if that doesn’t chainsaw your voice into shape to get it ready singing two hours of ACDC every night, I mean oh my god! So that was my “hockey practice” to get myself ready for Automan  and it worked fabulously for me to get my chops up. Anyway Carleton, I found Carlton strangely enough we own a hair salon (me and my wife) in Toronto and Carleton was a client at the salon. So I told my wife, “I am looking for a short guitarist that kinda looks like Angus Young and must have an SG guitar” (laughing) I am not lying to you. So she goes to me “I know a guy like that.” Turns out he is a client of the salon and has a day job downtown, so she gets in touch with him and he was into it.

So I meet with Carleton and it turns out he is this little short dude, kinda looks like Angus a bit but he’s left handed and he has an SG. Now he hates the SG but he played it anyway just to be in an AC DC band. Now the other freaky thing about this “six degrees of separation” it turns out he is from Moncton, New Brunswick and he had a band that opened for the Killer Dwarfs back in Dartmouth back in the early 80’s and had met me and hung out for about an hour. Then, years later he ends up in my cover band and now my partner in Automan. It’s really amazing. He’s a freak though (laughing) he’s not really into metal more into Jeff Beck and Keith Richards and he plays a guitar left handed and its strung upside down without a pick. Really what he did was learn how to play using a right handed guitar and just flipped it around and strummed in reverse. People look at him and go “how is he doing that?” but he had to and it’s not that crazy but without the pick it gives it a real warm tone that you can hear on Down on the Bone.
Wally: You had mentioned to me the “Tom Petty” connection with Greg Looper. So how did that all come into play?
Darrell: Yeah that’s all pretty cool. I happen to know many, many road crew. I am more friends with road crew than rock stars. I even built a site called roadcrew live.com that I run that I did interviews with the guys in tribute to them. I don’t make money off it but these guys are the guys that make you roll and without them we are nobody and they don’t get near enough credit. So I gave them this site and they appreciated it, there’s about twelve guys on there. One guy recently passed away “Davy Kirkwood” famous soundman worked for Rainbow and Dio for years he died last year of complications from a botched operation, very sad.  

Anyways, Greg Looper is on that site and Cosmo Wilson who is one of my best friends who is AC/DC’s lightman, he was on tour with Whitesnake and Greg was working with them so he introduced me to Greg. Greg was full time with Tom Petty but when he is not on the road Greg works different bands so he was introduced to Automan and was into it so he mixed the “Pocket Change” album and was interested in actually recording with us. So I told him “your not going to get Tom Petty money” (laughing) but he was into it and came up to Toronto to do the album.

Wally: So, I am headed out to the Rockpile in June to see you guys perform. What can fans expect that come see an Automan show?
Darrell: Well, you can expect some really good opening acts. (laughing) You can expect to hear the music like a Rush show; very true to what`s on the record. Very rich background vocals on the songs. That`s what I love about the band is but we seem to sound a touch heavier live due to the PA and what not. People are saying that `` I think you sound better live than on the record," which is good because a lot of bands cant recreate their own sound live. I`d rather have that than the other way and I hope when you see us you`ll agree.
Wally: Any touring plans south of the border coming up?

Darrell: Most definitely, but here`s the thing. Touring the States has become a tough nut to crack for a couple reasons.  Number one is the border issues have changed and the fees for bands to come down and play are through the roof. They are up to $2000 dollars for a band to be processed to come down and play and the waiting times to process are brutal. Sometimes the tours come up fast, all of the sudden you just get a call and `Tom Petty` has some shows (or whoever is out) but it`s all last minute. Like Killer Dwarfs; when we got the Iron Maiden tour it was because Ace Frehley was sick and we got slotted in last minute you know. So now we have issue waiting because we need dates to even be considered for process but we can`t begin the process without dates. You can`t even say to them, ``Okay, here`s the $2000 we want to tour the US six months from now;" they say no. So it’s a real issue right now but look we are trying to get something booked for the fall. We will tour America this album for sure and I have a PR team in Australia so we are planning to play there in 2013.
Wally: So back to Laidlaw for a moment, what was working with Nikki Sixx like?

Darrell: I don`t know, I mean I didn’t know what to expect. I mean you read all the `diaries` and stuff and you hear how fucked up they were but I mean I got to work with Nikki at a good time you know. Nikki Sixx was completely sober and fit, he worked out every day, was a happy guy and he was very professional you know. Brian Dobbs  engineered it, worked with Metallica on the Black album with Bob Rock. In walks Steve Perry from Journey one day and sings back up. I mean kinda surreal, Steve Perry signing, Nikki Sixx is my producer it was like a weird dream you know. Oh and it gets better, we are recording at Rover Studios in Burbank, California which is `Tiffany`s studio where they recorded all the bubblegum pop songs.

Wally: The Dwarfs toured with a lot of great bands, do any favourites come to mind?
Darrell: Well I really value the Dio show and it was only one show at CNE with Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen and the Dwarfs. There was a big lightning storm that night; it was a great special effect. Ronnie was such a sweetheart. It`s a sad, sad thing this cancer has taken so many in the past little while. I mean you have like 5 musicians in the last couple months. You have Gibb (Barry), Donna Summer, Montrose (Ronnie), the guy from the Band (Levon Helm),  so for Ronnie to die of stomach cancer was so sad. He was such a powerful vocalist. I wrote that song `Hurts to be Alive` on the record about all those guys I have lost recently, Dee (Cernile) from Sven Gali was another. It`s in the liner notes all the guys that the song is dedicated to, I mean I usually write `good time, party tunes` but life isn’t always like that.  Sometimes it`s fucked up.  I wasn`t sure it was right for the band and was thinking of selling it off but Carlton talked me into keeping it and having it an Automan tune and I thank him for that. Boy, did we get off track, what was the question?

Wally: It was who was your favourite act to tour with?

Darrell: Dio for sure, but then I would have to say Iron Maiden because they have remained friends to this day. Steve even had Automan open up in Winnipeg and c`mon Automan should not be opening for Iron Maiden at all. It was supposed to be Dream Theatre but they pulled out of the Winnipeg show, played every other show on the tour but bailed on Winnipeg. Anyways, we had a rough gig but we got through it and Steve and his son were there, they loved it and said we did great. Steve said most new bands don’t make it past a couple songs opening for Maiden but you got in your whole set. Good old Steve though, getting us the show.

Wally: You guys played some shows with Pantera, how was that?

Darrell: Oh Fuck, that was just weird, and I will tell you why, because I wasn’t ready for what Pantera had become. I hadn`t tapped into the Pantera fame yet because I mean heavy metal was dying, gunge had just hit and some of these newer bands were coming up but Pantera had this whole new sound. We were switching off with Skid Row, sometimes we would play first, sometimes Pantera would go on first depending on the market so that was cool and we were both Ok with that. Pantera were the shit, they were really heavy but not too heavy, they had this really aggressive sound but you could understand it unlike most of the grindcore scream shit and Dimebag was off the charts. Their energy was so intense, I thought the Dwarfs had energy, I mean Russ had ENERGY but Pantera was so powerful and they could just stand there in this stance and just like `cmon fuckers!`  I was a huge fan of them and Skid Row, great band, Baz is an amazing singer and I am proud that. That was our last arena tour and I got to play 30 shows with them.

Wally: Just as grunge was about to change it all.

Darrell: Well it had to you know, it was necessary I guess. I can look at it now and see it objectively seeing as I didn't end up homeless because of it (laughing). But seriously, it was scary when the Dwarfs broke up. It was getting so bad near the end. Grunge came along and it was necessary to have something new to get us through to the next thing and it didn’t last long. Grunge was really only about a five year deal and then it was grunge that became watered down as well, so we could evolve into what we have now, like Nickelback you know what I mean?
Wally: ohhhh ouch Nickelback, kind of a sore spot at the Decibel Geek show (laughing)

Darrell: Oh man I am sick of the bashing man I am tired of it I mean Chad is a phenomenal songwriter and I think the best thing that came out of that `Metal Evolution` show was the scene with Jerry Cantrell came out and talks about Nickelback who said ``I know they get bashed a lot but I have played with Nickelback, and until you have seen them live you don`t get it cause they are one of the heaviest bands on the road``. Dude their songs on the radio are nothing like they are live, live they are pounding metal man. I respect anyone that can sell 12 million records (laughing).
Wally: So the last time I saw the Dwarfs was back on the reunion tour in 2001, you guys played a great set in Mississauga, had just released the live CD and DVD and I figured that was the start of something but it never seemed to get off the tarmac.
Darrell: The big Reunion of Scribes, I will ask you a question. Do you think that was a little ahead of its time. I mean not that we knew, we just reformed because we decided to, not like we were looking at a clock and could say `Yep heavy metal is popular again` but do you think if we had of done that right now, do you think it would have been different?

Wally: Yeah I do.

Darrell: Me too, I think, unfortunately we were ahead of the curve. It seems all the bands are back together and touring. From big bands like Judas Priest to even like Bang Tango are back at it. Firehouse is back together.

Wally: But the thing about it now is people remember that it was such a good time and people really want that again.

Darrell: Oh I know they do, well that’s what I am trying to do with Automan, we are a new band playing classic rock and I am in it though. I AM Darell DWARF, I can`t change that. Look at me as the Canadian Dave Grohl (laughing).  I am off the drums and out front doing it in a way that no one has seen before, I wear the silly suits and hats and get out and rock out and give them that fun which was the 80`s. That’s who I am, my show is fun. It’s the real deal.

Wally: Ok my last question for you, tell me the song you wish you wrote?

Darrell: Nice, can it be any band or the Dwarfs. That’s a tough one, I have done thousands of interviews and have never been asked that exact question. I`ll have to think about it.

Ok what song I wished I wrote? Strutter by Kiss. (laughing) Okay no, that would have been my answer if you asked me when I was 15. I would have to say Man on the Silver Mountain (Rainbow) or Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The time Slayer’s Kerry King came into my work (or the most unexciting celebrity encounter you've ever heard in your life)

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Andrew Jacobs here,

Back in 2002, I was working as a substitute teacher. To supplement my teaching income (because I only got paid once a month and I only made $95 a day IF I was fortunate enough to get a subbing job that day), I took a part time job at a local FYE store. 2012 American job market notwithstanding, working a borderline minimum wage retail job when you’re in your early 30s isn’t the greatest thing in the world (and to make matters much worse, it was in a mall). However, it was also a music and movie store, so needless to say, I absolutely LOVED working there.

One day, I noticed that one of the customers in the store looked very familiar. Turns out that it was none other than Kerry King, guitarist and co-founder of Slayer.

Kerry wound up going to my cash register to purchase a South Park DVD. I remember him saying, “I’ve been looking everywhere for that!”. I rang him up and thanked him for shopping at FYE. Because I’ve never been that much of a Slayer fan (sacrilege when you write for Decibel Geek, I know), I decided not to let him know that I knew who he was.

Before walking out of the store, Kerry stopped for a minute or two (or 3) to stare at the huge poster of a topless Christina Aguilera, which was prominently on display to promote her then upcoming new album Stripped.

That's it. Told ya it was unexciting.

Episode 34 - Jack Russell

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Jack Russel of Great White joins us this week to discuss a career that has spanned the highs, lows, and everything in-between.

Last week was a busy week in the press for Russell between dodging drunk boaters and having to clarify remarks about former manager Alan Niven. He takes a few minutes to discuss these stories, as well as where the current legal case with the rest of the band stands, with us before we launch into career-talk.

And what a career it's been. From their early days in 1978 as Dante Fox, Jack tells us how the name Great White came about and how it relates to albino guitar players.


We get Jack's recollections of the Sunset Strip in the days before it exploded which included flyer wars with Nikki Sixx and Motley Crue as well as his thoughts on how the internet has pretty much squashed the chances of a regional thing on that level happening again.

We discuss the reversal of touring to sell albums shifting to recording an album as an excuse to tour and Jack's thoughts on what downloading has done to deplete potential income and the presence of record stores.

Chris asks Jack to explain why the first two Great White albums sound so distinctly different from everything that followed and we find out why all of those keyboards appeared on the Shot in the Dark album. You'll hear Jacks memories of touring with Whitesnake in the U.K. for Great White's first european tour as well as a story about the members of Judas Priest playing volleyball in Biloxi, MS while on the Defenders of the Faith tour.

Russell tells us how he had to fight to get Save Your Love included on the Once Bitten album after the producer and record company went cold on the song; a gamble that paid off for Russell and the band as the song received widespread radio airplay.

Following the breakthrough success of the Once Bitten & Twice Shy albums, the tide started shifting in popular music with "party" rock bands beginning to multiply to the general public's disgust causing the overnight change of pace with grunge music taking over the airwaves. Jack gives us his memories of this period of time and how it hit the hard rock scene like a freight train and did much damage to the prospects of success for their then-new album Psycho City. He also tells us about Great White's experience opening for KISS during 1992's Revenge tour and getting a front row seat to the media machinations of one Gene Simmons.

After venturing into solo territory, Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall began performing again as Jack Russell's Great White with Kendall leaving the band again. With new guitarist Ty Longley, the band played The Station nightclub in Warwick, Rhode Island where pyrotechnics caused a fire that killed one hundred people including Longley. Jack Russell tells why he's decided to no longer comment on the incident.

We wrap up the conversation with some talk about the band's amazing cover of Led Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You and why they decided to record an entire album of Zeppelin covers songs as well as the upcoming America Rocks 2012 tour that Jack and co. are undertaking this summer along with Faster Pussycat, Bulletboys, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Lillian Axe. Jack also makes it a point to thank his legion of very supportive fans that helped to bring him back from a horrific physical state to rocking stages all over the world again.

Special thanks to Dave Hardin and Valerie Ince for assisting in arrangement of this interview.

Check out Jack Russell's website for tour dates, news, and messages from Jack himself.

Facebook:
Jack Russell's Great White Pirates Page
Jack Russell's Well-Wishers Page

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Confessions of a Metalhead

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I have often described myself as a proud card carrying metalhead. Those that know me would confirm that I am a complete and unabashed music junkie. Although my tastes run deeper than just heavy metal, metal is certainly my favourite music of choice.

Becoming a teenager in 1983, I grew up in a golden age where I was able to witness first hand how heavy metal became mainstream. Quiet Riot and Def Leppard hit the radio and I loved the loud aggressive guitars. Before long I was spending hours listening to and new bands (Crue, Ratt, Helix, WASP) and uncovering the "classic" bands (Kiss, Sabbath, Aerosmith, AC/DC)

I am sure my parents assumed this would be a just a passing adolescent faze. I began hunting down Circus and Hit Parader magazines to read about the bands and what they were up to. Heavy metal became my passion and my escape from the day to day routine. Posters covered my walls and music video shows were my television preference.

Many afternoons were spent air guitaring to our favourite bands. Now many kids air guitar, but we took it way beyond the next level. We had air guitar "concerts" where we planned out the bands, wrote out setlists, chose which band members we would "portray" and we would go through an entire concert. 

Wooden guitars were built and painted with painstaking details, costumes designed.  If we had a day off school we would go organize a complete "festival" concert, creating dream lineups of shows we would love to see. I remember getting an old empty Jack Daniels bottle and filling it with iced tea as a prop during our "Motley Crue" set. Kiss would usually headline with Crue, Def Lappard, Wasp, Helix and Accept being one such festival.

From there we saved our money and the air guitars became real guitars. For me it was a bass guitar and the later teen years were spent making a racket in someones garage or basement. "Rock Stars" in our own minds and nowhere else.


Growing up during these years, with access to a major city (Toronto) I was lucky enough to see many metal tours as they rolled through our area. Motley Crue, Kiss, Wasp, Dio, ACDC, Guns and Roses, Aerosmith, Metallica, Def Leppard, the list goes on and on. It was the golden era of hairspray heavy metal and until the fall of 91 and the rise of grunge it was everywhere and I loved it.

Metal fans are the most loyal, devoted audience in the world (country fans come close) They latch on to their favourite bands and will support and even defend these bands forever. Shit, I even have heard people defending Metallica's Lulu! (Eeesh!). I can only compare it to sports, the blind dedication of the superfan, that will support and cheer on the team no matter how grim the game or season is going. C'mon, how many of us have defended Kiss throughout an album we thought was weak (Psycho Circus!) because they are a part of who we are, and we love them in spite of the occasional mistake.

Being a fan of hard rock music is like being a member of a club that not everyone is going to understand yet it's open and welcoming to anyone who "gets it". That to me was part of the attraction, it is music that is generally positive, high energy that can get me pumped up for whatever obstacle I might be facing. It can inspire me to be creative, it can relax me if I am tense and it can make me smile and remember parts of my childhood. Music has always been an important part of my life and I truly believe it has the power to heal.

So to my family, who were expecting and probably wishing that my "metal" passion was just a faze, I say sorry about your luck! Heavy metal, once in your blood isn't going anywhere. At 42 years of age I am still just as amped up to see Kiss and Motley Crue this year as I ever was. To those that enjoy heavy metal music I raise the horns and wink and smile. To those that don't get it I understand that its not for everyone, just us decibel geeks with good taste, and with that said I will turn my amp to eleven because it is one louder and keep on rocking.

Iron Maidens (all female Iron Maiden tribute) & Hammer Of The Broads (all female Led Zeppelin tribute) at Brixton South Bay in Redondo Beach, CA on 5/25/12

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Monday, May 21, 2012

In Photos - KISS Euro Tour 1976

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KISS is one of the most world-traveled band in rock history but it wasn't always that way. Today, we take a look at the fearsome foursome's first trip outside of North America with some photos snapped during their 1976 European Tour.

This is an interesting set of photos due to the fact that the band opened this tour in support of Destroyer but were still wearing their Alive! era costumes. Some of the coolest photos in this set show the band posing holding promo photos where they are wearing the new costumes. This tour was not billed as The Destroyer Tour or the Alive! Tour but simply KISS Tour. The band did, however, perform Detroit Rock City as well as Flaming Youth off of the then-new album.

The tour began in Manchester, England on 5/13/76 and ended in Grundigshalle, Nuremburg, Germany on 6/4/76. Most, if not all, of these photos are from KISS' stops in Sweden 5/26-30.

Photos by Hans Hartviq and Peter Klain and supplied by KISS Legends Alive. Tour info from KISSFAQ.


Betty Blowtorch / Ten Years Gone tribute to Bianca by Antonia Scarpa, director of Betty Blowtorch and Her Amazing True Life Adventures

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This film was especially made by filmmaker Antonia Scarpa (director of "Betty Blowtorch and Her Amazing True Life Adventures") for the 10 year tribute to Bianca Halstead concert on 5/20/12. It is a combination of interview outtakes from the film and video clips of the band. It was shown directly before the reformed band took the stage the evening of the concert.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In Photos - Vinnie Vincent Invasion 1987-88

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One artist that's been discussed lots and lots on the Decibel Geek podcast has been Vinnie Vincent. Today we take a look at some candid and live shots of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. The early photos that you see were taken at SIR Rehearsal studios in Los Angeles while the band was preparing to tour to promote the All Systems Go album in 1988.

Notice the Ozzy Osbourne shirt on Dana Strum. Dana has long been credited for being the person that introduced Randy Rhodes to Ozzy.

The All Systems Go era was much more toned down in image and sound with the band relaxing on wearing so much makeup and Vinnie performing with much more restraint on guitar solos in comparison to the dive-bombing extravaganza showcased on the self-titled debut in 1986. My take on the change in image and "safer" sound was due to record company pressures to sound more radio friendly and not look so extreme. While I was never a big fan of the glammed out look of the first album, I was happy to see them tone down the look for ASG but was let down overall with the restrained and more formulaic approach that they took. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy both albums but I, personally, enjoyed Vinnie doing all of that crazy stuff on the fretboard. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea and I'm sure it hindered their mainstream appeal but I just dug the over-the-top craziness of that first album.

The pics near the end of the slideshow feature shots of Vinnie playing live at the Long Beach Arena on February 17, 1987 while the Invasion was opening for Iron Maiden. In these shots, you can see how extravagant the look of the band was at the time. Hope you all enjoy these great shots provided by Mike "Ozzy" Gibbens of a time and sound that's near and dear to my heart.

- Chris Czynszak

In Photos - Peter Criss visits Pearl Drum Factory 1977

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Every now and then I come across something on the internet that makes me say "Wow!" and it's not always porn related. Recently I was perusing the facebook page of one of my many KISS friends when I found a photo album that contained pictures of KISS drummer Peter Criss, in costume and makeup, visiting the Pear Drum factory in Japan while the band was on tour there in 1977.

Some of these photos have shown up in the Music Life special magazines that were issued in Japan to commemorate KISS' tours of the land of the rising sun but others were not published. I knew that these were very cool photos and wanted to share them with you, my fellow Decibel Geeks. The page that uploaded these photos was entitled KISS Elders and it appears they are based out of Germany from going by their information. Decibel Geek made attempts to contact the page owners but it appears they haven't logged into facebook since the photos were uploaded. We give them full credit for these photos and claim no ownership. If anyone from KISS Elders has questions/concerns about the use of these photos please contact us at decibelgeek@gmail.com

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Episode 33 - 1991 Year in Review

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In the short year that the Decibel Geek podcast has existed, some of our more popular episodes have been our Year in Review shows. We have received some great feedback from all over the world about our 1975 and 1983 episodes and this week we head to the 90's as we focus on a truly transitional year in rock music in 1991.

Chris and Aaron are spinning a plethora of their favorite songs from 1991 and you're sure to hear lots of stuff you may have missed while radio stations were shoving Bryan Adams and Amy Grant down your throat. While the glam to grunge overnight transition took place in September with the release of Nirvana's landmark Nevermind album, you'll hear plenty of examples of the wide variety of great music that was being released even before anarchist cheerleaders picked up black pompoms and the janitor got his groove back.

1991 was a crazy year for cannibalism, true and fictional, with Jeffrey Dahmer proving that Aaron Camaro is not the only lunatic from Wisconsin and Anthony Hopkins' strange appetite in Silence of the Lambs.

We also learned in 1991 that Pee Wee Herman likes himself. He...really....really....likes himself. Of course, he went to jail and was ridiculed for something that 99% of the population does and that 1% dude sure is frustrated.

Michael Jordan got us to eat our Wheaties, Madonna pissed of parents of teenage boys everywhere with a "racy" video that is tame by today's standards and there was a TON of great music produced in 1991. You'll hear us yack about all of it this week on the Decibel Geek podcast.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

"No Bullshit Rock and Roll" an Interview with WEST MEMPHIS SUICIDE

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I will go under the assumption here that most of you reading this have probably never heard of West Memphis Suicide. That last sentence, in my opinion is a complete and utter miscarriage of justice. If I can share just one piece of musical advice to my readers out there, please stop what you are doing and immediately head over to Itunes or wherever you can  and pick up their album `Resurrecting the Ghost`. This album is a whiskey soaked journey into some raw, in your face metal that will shake the fillings out of your teeth and rock you to the core. This album should be platinum and hanging in a frame on a lucky record company's wall, just sayin!

“Resurrecting the Ghost” is truly a metal masterpiece, heavy as hell yet oozing in melody and musicality and thats what I love about it. If I had to make a comparison, this album reminds me of Skid Row’s “Slave to the Grind”, all killer no filler and even the ballad’s kick ass.

With a name like West Memphis Suicide you`ll probably be surprised to hear they hail from the town of Cambridge, Ontario up in Canada and they have been rocking up North for a few years now. I was turned onto this band from a friend of mine who invited me out to one of their shows last year. That night I witnessed a band tear up a stage so thoroughly and convincingly that I walked right over the merchandise table to buy the disc.

The band is comprised of Chris Raposo (vocals, guitar), Barry Martin (guitar), Paul Oliver (bass) and Chris Spiers (Drums) and last night we assembled in an alley behind the rock club that would host this evening`s performance.

WN        Ok guys who the hell is West Memphis Suicide?

Paul       WE’RE THE CANADIAN FRESH MEAT! (laughter)

Barry     We are just another Rock Band trying do its thing.

Raposo We are just four regular guys man and hopefully that comes across when we play you know? A lot of guys get up there and they swoop their hair to the side and they have whatever gimmick going. They go on and they try to be rock stars. We just get up there and play a fuckin hard assed show and hopefully that comes across and I think it has so far for us. More and more people start coming out to the shows, more people starting to talk about us, the industry is starting to talk about it and we’re doing all on our own steam, I think that’s what we’re all about, No Bullshit Rock n Roll.

WN        Well, I was turned on to your Resurrecting the Ghost CD and I have to say it is one of my favourite Cd’s period. The songs and the production of that CD is as good as anything out there. Tell me where that all went down?

Raposo Sweet! Thank you very much. Well we did spend probably close to 5 million dollars to record that album.

Paul       Yeah less  $4 999 000 (laughing away).

Raposo The funny thing is that when people listen to it they expect it was recorded in a major studio but what we did was we recruited a buddy of ours who had produced his own band and did an amazing job of it. We’re all involved in finding common minded people and getting them involved. Kind of like a family affair you know and his name is Dave Houde! The Sound Distillery is the studio, the music was actually recorded in Paul’s Tattoo Shop (Lucky Souls Tattoo) downstairs in the bunker where we wrote all the songs and rehearse.

Chris      It was recorded on a laptop.

Raposo Yeah it was all done on Macbook and I think it turned out... I am proud of that motherfucker you know.

Paul       Mastered at Sterling Sound.

WN        I have heard a story regarding a Guitar Competition and a certain member of the band.

Raposo Oh Shit (laughing) BARRY MARTIN!

Barry     YES I Won Everything! No it was Chris (Raposo) that entered the Shredder Search for Dean Guitars being a fan of one Dimebag Daryl and out of 1102 people on  the planet earth he came in the top 15 (note this contest was judged by Vinnie Paul of Pantera) which was pretty bad ass! So if anything people should be checking out the guitar work of this band, especially MINE (laughter)

WN        So what is on the burner right now? Anything new in the works?

Raposo We have started tracking some new songs with Dave (Houde) again in Kitchener and I think they are starting to sound really good. We have Hockeyfest and a couple of bigger shows coming up but I am hoping the plan is to hunker down and put em all together, record em and put out a kick ass new record with our new Drummer CHRIS SPIERS!

Chris      YEP!

WN        Your t-shirts are adorned with the term DIRTBAG, I think it’s a pretty cool way to identify with your fans. Can you tell us about that?

Raposo It’s a story from when I was a little kid, I always had hand me downs from my cousins and was always the fat, portly kid that got beat up. In one instance I got kicked over a fence and my pants ripped down, I was always that kid that got picked on they called me a “dirtbag”. As I got older and got more confidence I thought I am going to turn this around and make it something that unifies people. So what I did was take the whole idea and broke it down so what it is, is this  Driven by Integrity, Respect and Trust and anybody I involve myself with and the band involves themselves with we feel lives up to this, you could almost call it a bikers code. People are grabbing onto that, finding themselves in that motto.

Paul       It’s like a badge of honour really and it’s cool for us because it’s a compliment to us and what we do.

WN        Now I know you recently got to play with John Corabi who, in my opinion fronted the best Motley Crue album. What was that like?

Barry     yeah same here I go on record as saying that, great album

Raposo I think he was great, Barry here is our schmoozer so he got to spend some time with him and got to hear some stories, didn’t you?

Barry     Yeah man, but no stories you’ll have to meet him yourself (laughter) No he was really cool there was no “rockstar” attitude. He was just a regular guy, playing the scene. Really cool singer, songwriter to play with him was great but to meet him and talk with him? I wasn’t hearing Motley Crue stories from some guy I was hearing Motley Crue from a guy that lived them. I was a little star struck yet having a beer with him he brought it down and it was cool.

WN        Ok, last question for you guys and I will ask individually. Pick me the song “you wish you wrote”

Raposo Oh that’s a tough motherfucker that one. I am gonna go hands down “Walk” by Pantera. Well anything by Pantera (laughs) that’s my pick

Barry     Anything by Lady GaGa ohh man there’s a lotta shit, I got so many Ok Fuckin Purple Rain by Prince there you go, I mean give me a break you know “Supposed to be a Heavy Metal Guy!” Purple Rain, anything from Skynard you know real shit. I can't pick just one.

Chris      (points to Raposo) Anything that this guy here wrote (laughter)

Paul       I don’t know there’s just so many ahhhh,  “Broken” by Pantera

Raposo But you should see these guys collections, man I got through their DVD’s you got Annihalator, Metallica, Pantera, Dixie Chicks, Adele I mean what the fuck? It’s insane.

Barry  Hey I’ll tell you what that girl in the Dixie Chicks can sing and she can jerk tears out of your eyes man. I mean look, music is the soundtrack of your life, you know what I mean so why would you pigeon hole yourself to I AM JUST A HEAVY METAL GUY!  Because then you are JUST a heavy metal guy

Raposo Well that goes back to what I said at the beginning you have the guys that get up there thinking they have to be all “RRRRRRROOOOAAARRRR”  all the time man. I mean you’ll know if you’ve seen us when we get up there we are having a blast, when its time to be serious we’re serious but even then we’ll joke around, it’s who we are.

Barry     You can be aggressive and have fun, I am having a blast when I am playing with these guys so why should I be miserable? I am miserable enough in my day to day living when I am waiting to go play with these guys again.

The boys in the band then headed inside the club to grab their guitars and hit the stage.  Kicking it off with the opening riffs of “Sixx Feet” , WMS launched headfirst into a kick ass hour long sweat soaked set. These guys work the stage and as mentioned in the interview, they truly seem to enjoy being onstage, goofing around and having fun playing together. Chris Spiers and Paul lay down groove so deep you could fall into it, while the tandem guitar work from Barry and Raposo is truly something to see.

Delta Bruise was a show highlight with its tasty bluesy feel. They ended the set with “Nothang Messiah” as the audience chanted along “ALL HAIL!” in metal unison. These guys mean business and they have all the ingredients, strong musicians, great songs and a kiler attitude. In Raposo’s own words “No Bullshit Rock and Roll”!
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